Balderson Wins in OH-12;
Close Primaries Abound

the-primariesBy Jim Ellis

Aug. 8, 2018 — The multiple pollsters who predicted a very tight OH-12 special election finish last night proved correct, as Ohio Republican state Sen. Troy Balderson (R-Zanesville) defeated Franklin county Recorder Danny O’Connor (D) by a scant 50.2 – 49.3 percent margin, or an unofficial spread of 1,754 votes from a turnout universe of 202,521 people.

The turnout was just eight percent less than the number present in the 2014 midterm election, and ranks fourth highest among the 10 special US House elections conducted after the 2016 general election. In four of these contests: AZ-8 (Rep. Debbie Lesko), GA-6 (Rep. Karen Handel), MT-AL (Rep. Greg Gianforte), and PA-18 (Rep. Conor Lamb), special election voter participation actually exceeded the number of people voting in the last midterm.

The 12th District vote again revealed a stark difference in the timing of how the preponderance of Democrats and Republicans cast their ballots. Democrats dominated the early voting, sending O’Conner to an early 8,000-vote lead, but that advantage dissipated when the people who actually visited a polling booth recorded their votes, allowing Sen. Balderson to take the lead and win the campaign.

Balderson carried six of the district’s seven counties, but lost the anchor county, Franklin, by a large 65-35 percent margin. In four of the local entities, the Republican topped 60 percent of the vote.

Other close elections registered across the country:


The Kansas Republican gubernatorial primary is yet to be decided. With 185 precincts in Johnson County still outstanding — the rest of the state is complete — Secretary of State Kris Kobach holds a 40.7 – 40.5 percent lead over Gov. Jeff Colyer, a difference of just 541 votes, statewide. But Colyer’s margin in the Johnson County vote already recorded (43.6 – 36.6 percent) gives the governor a 4,011-vote edge.

With possibly as many as 30,000 ballots remaining uncounted, Colyer should have enough uncounted votes to overcome Kobach’s small statewide lead. But, it is difficult to say exactly how many votes are outstanding, and how all of those will eventually be recorded, meaning the final result cannot be called. Chances are strong, however, that Gov. Colyer prevails.

Also undecided is the 3rd District congressional primary because of those same 185 precincts not reporting in the Democratic primary. Here, former White House Fellow Sharice Davids holds a 492-vote lead over attorney and Bernie Sanders-endorsed Brent Welder, but enough votes remain uncounted for the latter man to eclipse his opponent.


Another close contest is underway in the Detroit special congressional election, in district contests that may produce two different winners. With former Rep. John Conyers (D-Detroit) resigning his seat in December, Gov. Rick Snyder (R) made the replacement special election concurrent with the general election schedule. Largely because two candidates, and most specifically state Sen. Coleman Young II (D-Detroit), did not enter the special election, Detroit City Council President Brenda Jones won the special Democratic primary. This means she will win the November special election and then assume the seat.

But, the regular Democratic primary went to former state Rep. Rashida Tlaib, meaning that she will take the safely Democratic district for the regular term and be sworn into office in January for the new Congress.

And yet another close contest will evolve in retiring Rep. David Trott’s (R-Birmingham) 11th District. It appears that Republican businesswoman and Trump state co-chair Lena Epstein will advance into the general election and face former Treasury Department official Haley Stevens, who appears to have won the Democratic primary. Both contests were multi-candidate and close.

It looks like retiring Rep. Sander Levin’s (D-Royal Oak) son Andy Levin will succeed him in the open 9th District. The latter Levin won the Democratic primary, as expected, and should have clear sailing in the general election.

The Michigan gubernatorial primary went as predicted. The nominees are former state House Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer for the Democrats and Republican Attorney General Bill Schuette. Retired Army Ranger and manufacturing company owner John James, who President Trump endorsed last week, took 55 percent in the Senate Republican primary and will now challenge Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D).


With its mail voting system that allows ballots to be postmarked on Election Day, it will be more than a week before Washington primary results become final. We do know, however, that close jungle primaries occurred for Reps. Jamie Herrera Beutler (R-Battle Ground/Olympia) and Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Spokane). Both will fall below the 50 percent mark, however, meaning we can expect highly competitive general elections in the respective 3rd and 5th CDs.

In the open 8th District (Rep. Dave Reichert retiring), former state senator and gubernatorial nominee Dino Rossi (R) will advance into the general election and finish first. The battle for second place between pediatrician Kim Shrier, attorney Jason Rittereiser, and physician Shannon Hader is tight and, with maybe as many as half the votes outstanding, we will move well into August before a second-place finisher is determined. That individual will then advance into what will be a competitive general election with Mr. Rossi.

At this point, with just over 100,000 votes counted, Dr. Shrier posts 18.8 percent compared to Rittereiser’s 17.6 percent, and Dr. Hader’s 12.6 percent. It would be unusual to see Hader make up her deficit, but the battle between Shrier and Rittereiser remains too close to call. For his part, Rossi has so far totaled 43 percent of the vote.

Further analysis of these important elections will come later in the week.

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